Misery in Motown

Michigan Central Station, Detroit’s grand railway terminal, opened in 1913, closed and unused since 1988 (source: Time)

Every Wednesday evening at 8:30, my wife and I switch on the television in our bedroom for our weekly fill of Hardcore Pawn (you should see the raised eyebrows on our friends when we tell them this). It’s a reality show centred on the day-to-day trading and behind-the-scenes shenanigans of American Jewelry and Loan, Detroit’s largest pawnbroker.

It’s compulsive viewing on a couple of levels: not only is it one of the most explicit displays imaginable of the free market in action, but it is a jaw-droppingly honest look at the train wreck that Detroit society has become. Every week sees a new swarm of forlorn, impoverished, wild-eyed, mostly black citizens of what was once America’s most prosperous city, desperate to offload some broken electrical appliance or cheap bracelet of dubious provenance, all for a few dollars. They have their own YouTube channel, which archives all episodes in full from their last four seasons. Here’s a sample:

It’s also remarkable as a microcosm of the attitudes that have come to define the Obama-era United States. Once known as a frontier country, populated with self-reliant, optimistic, confident nation-builders, a people who subdued a continent, invented Coca-Cola, jazz and nylon, won two world wars, flew to the moon, then chewed up and spat out the Soviet Union—all before breakfast—the United States has become infected, slowly but inexorably, with apathy, sloth, victim-obsession, entitlement and mendicancy. In other words, all the hallmarks of an empire in economic and moral decay. To view the self-righteous indignation on a customer’s face as he is told that the diamond ring he wants to hock for five thousand bucks is in fact cubic zirconia and not even worth fifty, retaliating with I don’ care ’bout yo’ shit man, jus’ gimme mah money now, motherf#%$er, is to observe the reductio ad absurdum of “progressive” (read collectivist) society in what was once the world’s most envied economy.

Not to mention the fact that it’s a great belly laugh as it blithely and shamelessly reinforces just about every racial stereotype you’ve ever come across: blacks, Jews, WASPs, Italians, you name it. Straight out of central casting, it is. I didn’t know they were even allowed to make stuff like that anymore. But behind the humour lies a bleak reality.

Derelict house, Detroit

Derelict house, Detroit

Detroit is broke. Literally. On 18 July this year, the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in the Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Bankruptcy Court—the largest municipal bankruptcy in history to date. Owing approximately 18 billion dollars, or about 0.1% of the entire U.S. Federal debt, city emergency administrator Kevyn Orr is trying to persuade unsecured creditors to accept ten cents in the dollar, while municipal bond yields are soaring towards 20%. A general default is inevitable, yet that would send shock waves through the entire state’s economy, with likely repercussions for the nation as a whole.

And Detroit society, as you saw at the top, has collapsed. According to official figures, 60% of Detroit’s citizens are living in poverty. Half the population are functionally illiterate. A third of the city’s municipal area of 140 square miles is vacant or derelict. And unmarried, teenage pregnancy is endemic. You can buy a house in one of the vacant neighbourhoods for as little as a thousand dollars; indeed, real estate agents have been reported as offering “buy one, get one free”. Police, paramedic and fire departments (what is left of them) have declared parts of the city as “no-go” areas. Having bailed out General Motors and Chrysler—the big end of town—Obama, the “people’s president”, has left the once-proud city to sink into a third-world ghetto.

Sure, he’d bail them out—if he had any money left. But he doesn’t. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (son of Libertarian 2012 Presidential candidate Ron Paul) said in July Obama would bail out the City of Detroit “over my dead body”. This is significant, because not only does the city manage pension funds of all municipal employees, such as police and firemen, but those municipal employees are not covered by the same statutory guarantees as private-sector employees. And a Detroit bailout, says Paul, would send ominous signals to many other vastly indebted city administrations, most notably in California, that the Obama administration would be prepared to bail them out, too. Retired Detroit street sweepers and city clerks can look forward to reduced pension cheques for the rest of their lives.

Detroit Church Ruins

Hallowed ground desecrated: Martyrs of Uganda Catholic Church, La Salle Park, Detroit. Dedicated 1924, closed 2006.

The decay started long ago, it is true. Riots in the city in 1967 left over 40 dead and hundreds injured (after the National Guard was deployed by the Governor of Michigan—George Romney, father of Mitt), and precipitated a “white flight”, first from the inner-city residential districts, then, with the gradual decline of the auto industry, from the city altogether. The process was spurred on by real estate agents engaging in the unscrupulous practice of blockbusting, in which realtors would facilitate the sale of one or two houses in a white neighbourhood to black families, or even pay young black women to visibly push baby carriages around the neighbourhood, frightening other white families into selling out below market value.

And while race was not (it goes without saying) the cause of Detroit’s decline, the history of the city’s demographics certainly is emblematic of the causes of decay. At the turn of the 20th century, Detroit’s population, which stood at 285,000, was almost 99% white. Following the rapid expansion of the auto industry after the First World War, a steady, large-scale influx on blacks from the rural south, seeking high-paid factory work, helped increase the population to its peak in 1950 of 1.8 million, 16% of whom were black. Today, the population of just over 700,000 is 90% black or Hispanic; meaning that since 1950, the white population of Detroit has shrunk by 95%! White flight, writ large.

Yet according to distinguished conservative economist Thomas Sowell (who happens to be black),

Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit’s black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent.

It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. Detroit’s population today is only half of what it once was, and its most productive people have been the ones who fled.

Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run – and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.

Detroit is broke, all right. Just like the rest of America soon will be. And the root cause isn’t racial, or even economic. It’s cultural: a toxic culture that abandoned individual responsibility and turned a blind eye to creeping, collectivist Big Government.

United Artists Theatre

City in ruins: United Artists Theatre, downtown Detroit; opened 1928, abandoned 1984.

The true horror of Marxist collectivism is expressed in this excerpt from Chapter 10 of Atlas Shrugged which I’ve added to the site, and it is chilling in its prescience. Written in 1957 (back when Detroit’s GDP was the highest of any city in the country), the story’s heroine, Dagny Taggart, meets an old man, a survivor from the abandoned ruins of the once-great auto manufacturing city, Starnesville, who tells her the tale of its decline. It’s a long passage, over 5,000 words, but I would encourage all of you who have not read Atlas (or at least, my 2011 book review) to go to it now, and see how closely Ayn Rand’s narrative is a roman à clé, not only of Detroit, or even the United States, but of the entire socially-democratized Western world.

(On that note, I’m heartened to see DT columnists James Delingpole and Daniel Hannan have discovered Ayn Rand, and are now enthusiastically promoting the foresight of Atlas, if not objectivist epistomology per se. Who knows? Maybe she will attract a whole new generation of fans wise enough to read her books for themselves before taking on board her critics’ maledictions.)

So: what is the solution? In terms of structural reform, I read a most interesting proposal in the Mises Daily the week after the city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Banking expert Patrick Barron’s radical suggestion is a Libertarian’s nirvana, but a totalitarian’s nightmare:

All that Detroit really needs is economic freedom and secure property rights. Give Detroit its freedom from all manner of government, including the federal government. Declare Detroit a free city. (You can rest assured, Detroit, that America will come to your rescue if those bloodthirsty Canadians attack!) In other words, no one would pay any federal taxes whatsoever or be subject to any federal regulations whatsoever. Wouldn’t it be nice not to pay federal taxes, not even Social Security and Medicare taxes? Do the same with Michigan taxes. No taxes BUT also no federal or state aid either.

A Free Detroit would have absolutely no labor and workplace regulations, including minimum wages, mandatory insurance, equal opportunity rules, occupational safety rules, etc. People would be allowed to work together cooperatively for whatever terms their marginal productivity of labor will secure.

End all red tape that thwarts business startups and hobbles its expansion, such as licensing, public health regulations and inspections, zoning restrictions, etc. Do not be concerned that people may be employed in low wage, dangerous jobs against their will. The reality is that business owners must recruit workers and not dragoon them and chain them to their workplaces. Nor are business owners interested in harming either their workers or their customers. If they do, normal civil and commercial law will suffice.

Privatize all government services, such as garbage pickup, water and sewage services, and allow for unbridled competition in these and other areas, even fire protection. Sell off city property (who needs offices that are empty of government bureaucrats anyway?) and deed public housing to its current occupants, making them responsible for their own abodes. You may be surprised how responsible people can be with their own property. End public education and all its costs. Allow the people to get the kind of education that they desire, whatever that may be. Since half the current population of Detroit is functionally illiterate, what’s the risk?

Do you want a safe society? Then let people arm themselves without any licensing requirements. Since it takes Detroit police approximately an hour to answer a typical 911 call, this is simply a practical solution to the basic human right of self-defense. Above all end welfare. The destructive cycle of dependency is driving American cities to the financial and cultural wall.

Do not expect overnight success, but who knows? A free market always surprises us with new innovations. At first one can expect lots of mom and pop startups, sidewalk vendors, unlicensed and untaxed services such as simple property repair, home schools, private taxis, etc. But if Nike and other American businesses are enticed by lower costs and fewer regulatory burdens to outsource their manufacturing operations overseas, why would they not take a good look at a Free Detroit? Expect to be amazed.

As if. One can envisage White House nightly prayer sessions, during which the prostrate Commander-in-Chief enjoins his deity of choice to bring down a plague of locusts on Motown before other states in the Union observe its success, and start getting their own ideas…


Given the right opportunity, Detroit could rise again.

But on a more personal level, it is clear that no such proposal could ever succeed, even if given a chance, as long as the population continue to embrace a culture of resentment, entitlement, victimhood, mendicancy and sloth. Individual responsibility—and I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but it bears repeating today—is a precondition of any meaningful claim to individual rights. Detroit’s salvation lies in leaving behind attitudes like this:

And resurrecting attitudes like this:

A return to greatness, or a history-repeating collapse of a once-great empire? Detroit today is the visible face of America’s decline, but with federal debt limits increased yet again, how far off can the rest of the country be? The choice, it seems, lies with the American people themselves, and not their leaders, who too often have presumed themselves to be their masters and not their servants.

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58 Responses to Misery in Motown

  1. izen says:

    I wonder if you found other depictions of social dysfunction entertaining television, Sylvania waters perhaps? Absolutely hilarious. In fact, now that you mention it, I felt far less constrained about laughing at my own countrymen – Oz

    @- “A Free Detroit would have absolutely no labor and workplace regulations, including minimum wages, mandatory insurance, equal opportunity rules, occupational safety rules, etc. … But if Nike and other American businesses are enticed by lower costs and fewer regulatory burdens to outsource their manufacturing operations overseas, why would they not take a good look at a Free Detroit? ”

    This has already been tried, its called Bangladesh.

    “Since 2005, at least 1,800 workers have been killed in the Bangladeshi garment industry in factory fires and building collapses, according to research by the advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum.”

    A Free Detroit would also imply the freedom to leave – a two-dollar bus ticket’s worth. There your Bangladeshi analogy breaks down.

    Update – now I think of it, a Free Detroit, while unshackled from federal control, would still be able to uphold existing local legislation, such as municipal building codes. Once again, no Bangladesh. A free city doesn’t imply anarchy – Oz

  2. Your excellent article reminds me of the winter of ’69-’70. I lived in Sarnia Ontario, and having grown up in Western Canada, I was obsessed with the sport of curling. The Detroit Curling Club had invited a rink from the Sarnia club to which I belonged to their annual bonspiel. I was on the rink that Sarnia entered. The DCC gave us an address and early one Friday morning we drove down to Detroit. It’s only fifty miles.
    We drove for blocks and blocks of completely levelled residential housing. It was just like pictures of just when we thought we were hopelessly lost, was the Detroit Curling Club.
    The club members had somehow saved the building. The parking area was full of cars, with uniformed guards patrolling it. The door to the club was a solid door about 150 mm thick. We rang the bell and a little window opened, as in a medieval castle, and a mouth requested the password. Once we convinced the voice that we were in fact the rink invited from Sarnia, the sound of huge bolts and lock shifting ensued, and the door opened. Once inside we found a warmly welcoming lot. We had a great time and we won the second event as I recall.
    It was an eye-opener. Never in my widest dreams had I imagined a place of such devastation just across the river from Windsor Ontario.

    Thanks for the personal perspective Karabar – I’m lucky to have such a broad range of experience here – Oz

  3. Kitler says:

    Detroit deserves what it gets it elected Kwame Kilpatrick recently convicted ex mayor and kleptocrat. billions of Federal dollars have been poured into the city since the riots to make it a socialist workers paradise and it has failed utterly.
    Also I was up in Michigan a few weeks ago and apart from Flint or Dearborn (Iran) the rest of the state seems to be okay although not the powerhouse it once was, you can see the new shiny headquarters of Chrysler and Ford in the burbs.
    I also saw the most dangerous road bridge in the entire world thanks to union labour planning the positioning of the traffic lights where you could not see them while crossing it. However should you decide to visit Michigan and it’s wind farms I recommend Frankenmuth and Zynders restaurant.

    Ditto my comment to Karabar. You’ve added weight to the free city proposal.

    Update – just read the wiki entry on Kilpatrick, of whom I’ve never heard before. Strewth, what a piece of work! When his crimes were thrown up to him, he went into high theatrics, playing the eternal victim. He may not have been the mayor Detroit needed but, as you say, he was the mayor that Detroit richly deserved – Oz

  4. Ozboy says:

    As of today, each U.S. taxpayer has a federal debt liability of US$1.1 million, largely comprised of social security and Medicare obligations (H/T Andrew Bolt).

    Now, that’s a system which is broken.

  5. Luton Ian says:

    A free city doesn’t imply anarchy

    maybe not, but the early shoots of anarchy are starting to pop up, I don’t think it will be allowed to flower, but it is still pleasing to see it: http://reason.com/reasontv/2013/09/23/the-mower-gang-anarchy-in-detroit-part-i

    Pleasing indeed, but I wouldn’t call that anarchy. The people involved aren’t pushing for an absence of the state, but are naturally and privately performing the functions the state never should have. I call it minarchism – reduction of the state to its proper core functions – Oz

  6. Ozboy says:

    P.J. O’Rourke posted this apposite quote today on Facebook:

    Oppressive regimentation does not come unwanted and undeserved, like floods and pestilences. Its establishment is always facilitated, sometimes provoked and often welcomed by its beneficiaries or victims after periods of anarchy and troubles.

    Luigi Barzini

  7. Luton Ian says:

    he’s conflating anarchy with chaos.

    they’re words with very different meanings.

    I’d suggest one produces the other. (Many things produce chaos, but anarchy’s one of them). You still need courts to enforce property rights and the law of the land. Otherwise you’ll end up with a country run by the Mob.

    That’s no mere speculation, either. In O’Rourke’s hilarious treatise on economics, Eat the Rich, he travels the world to watch various economic systems in practice. In a chapter entitled “Bad Capitalism”, he visits Albania after the fall of the Stalinist Hoxha regime. There was your anarchy, Ian, in all its glory – Oz

  8. Luton Ian says:

    The state’s core function is theft and special privilege favouring some over others. places like Detroit and Zimbabwe show that empirically. The state is still there and still operating, but the various pretenses along the lines of by the people and for the people are all gone, its true nature as a bunch of thieving thugs and their cronies is laid bare.

    The “reason” crew are statists, but even in their video sequence, they manage to show that detroit’s government is still “working” for itself, as a predator.

    Incidentally, Detroit is not actually “Bankrupt”. It is engaging in creative accountancy;

    State sector accountancy rules allow current assets to be offset against long term liabilities, it is like you being able to offset your current assetts against all of your mortgage liabilities for the next few decades and take those assetts off your balance sheet as a “fund”. where that fund gets invested and by whom – never gets revealed. those funds form millions of slush funds and bungs to cronies.

    The bankruptcy will allow those off balance sheet goodies to disappear into private sector cronies’ ownership, while the creditors get shafted.

    It is simply a vehicle for theft – legal theft.

    The state’s core function is to defend the nation and uphold the law of the land. Lawlessness can, has, does, and always will, produce chaos. Pure anarchy’s been tried, and it doesn’t work. Because of human nature – Oz

  9. Luton Ian says:

    Absense of reading does not constitute evidence against.
    When anarchy has been tried and it works very very well, and for very long periods of time,

    Here are a few examples:
    The American Frontier http://mises.org/daily/4108
    Upland south east Asia http://mises.org/daily/4881

    Traditionally, at least 3 African ethnic groups were Anarchist, they did not have kings or chiefs, those who had influence had it because others voluntarily recognized their wisdom. Those groups were the Somali, the Igbo of the Niger delta, and the Kikuyu of Mount Kenya. The Apache of the southern US and northern Mexico also appear to have had that system, Refs for that would be Ayittey; African institutions, he covers a little of the ground in his hippos vs cheetahs Ted talk, and Van Notten & Heath-McCallum’s “Law of the Somalis” http://www.amazon.co.uk/Law-Somalis-Foundation-Economic-Development/dp/156902250X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383176037&sr=8-1&keywords=law+of+the+somalis

    As for the State, you have already alluded to the Hobbesian myth –

    Pure anarchy’s been tried, and it doesn’t work. Because of human nature – Oz

    What makes you believe that giving the most power hungry a monopoly of violence will work out better than a free market in protection and dispute resolution?

    I think I recently quoted St Augustine’s “City of G-d” book 4 chapter 4

    Chapter 4.— How Like Kingdoms Without Justice are to Robberies.

    Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.”


    and Will Grigg has one of his excellently researched and written pieces giving an empirical example of government laid bare, here http://freedominourtime.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/v-for-vigilante.html

    Lawlessness can, has, does, and always will, produce chaos.

    no one would disaggree with that statement as it stands

    What I will strenuously dis agree with is the inference that anarchy is somehow predicated on lawlessness.
    We can see very unpleasant examples in our archist regimes right now of those individuals in the caste of state, believing that they are above the laws.
    I’ll refer you to the works of Frank van Dun, and Bruce Benson in particular for examples of consensual polycentric systems of law, and of course, I’ve already given a link to van Notten and Heath-McCallum.

    The enterprise of law does not require a monopolist, on the contrary, a monopolist is more than likely to corrupt the Law with legalism and legal positivism.

    That’s what a constitution is there for: to limit the power of government, and to prevent the totalitarian-minded from seizing just that: a monopoly on violence. The problems in modern society have come about when the state sets aside the constitution, and regards itself as a law unto itself.

    If the enterprise of law is not a state monopoly, then you will have competing authorities making competing laws; thence private armies, and a society in which might is right: precisely what you are seeking to avoid. You can’t vote mafia bosses out of office, you know.

    You have a touchingly high regard for human nature, but the lessons of history would appear to judge otherwise. And as for the lawlessness of the wild west, the Mises article’s quote from Buchanan sums it up:

    Conflicts may occur, and one agency will win. Persons who have previously been clients of losing agencies will desert and commence purchasing their protection from winning agencies. In this manner a single protective agency or association will eventually come to dominate the market for policing services over a territory. Independent persons who refuse to purchase protection from anyone may remain outside the scope of the dominant agency, but such independents cannot be allowed to punish clients of the agency on their own. They must be coerced into not punishing. In order to legitimize their coercion, these persons must be compensated, but only to the extent that their deprivation warrants.

    There’s a name for that sort of behaviour, and it isn’t anarchy.

    And I see your Upland South East Asia from 2000 years ago, and raise you modern-day Afghanistan, Albania, Bougainville, Chechnya, Colombia, Congo, Darfur, Eritrea, Honduras, Haiti, Libya, Pashtun…

    Take away the state monopoly on legislating, and this is where you inevitably end up: warlords, crime barons, call them what you will – each with his own “legal code”, centred around himself: not to mention his own, sectional constituency, who observe his law, to the exclusion of all others. A “free marketplace of laws” sounds wonderfully appealing in an essay, but children carrying Kalashnikovs is what always ends up happening in reality.

    It’s happened too many times already in recent history for us not to have learned the lessons: lessons, not about ideal societies, but about ourselves. If we do not have recourse to justice from a single, universal body of law, under which we are all at least putatively equal, we will seek justice from the strongest among us. A recipe for perpetual war – Oz

  10. Luton Ian says:

    Oz, you have clearly skimmed and cherry picked to feed your confirmation bias for the Hobbesian Myth.

    How does a constitution constrain a leviathan; the state’s monopoly on courts and legislation decides what the constitution means. A constitution serves as an excuse for the caste who rob us and claim that they are doing it in our name and will. In the case of the united state, it created the leviathan.

    If the enterprise of law is not a state monopoly, then you will have competing authorities making competing laws; thence private armies, and a society in which might is right: precisely what you are seeking to avoid. You can’t vote mafia bosses out of office, you know.

    Empirically and theoretically wrong.
    For example, the background to modern day law in most of the world can be traced back to one of;
    Polycentric Roman law
    English common Law – again, customary, consesual and polycentric
    Merchant Law – which was developed ammongst merchants in medieval Europe, to settle disputes (often international) justly and quickly. it now forms the basis of international business law.

    Customary, Consensual polycentric legal systems are literally the laws of a society. Judges are chosen on the basis of their ability to find just solutions, any judge who fails to do that won’t get any business, and contrary to your idea of laws diverging, they actually tend to converge. Jurists discuss innovative insights, what works well for justice is adopted, what is seen as unjust is rejected. Bruce Benson and Frank van Dun describe the process and give case studies as examples.

    By contrast, statists monopolies are not subject to the market test, injustice doesn’t get continuously cleaned out, they get legalistic and positivistic. “stroke of the pen, law of the land, kinda cool” and similler shit.

    The modern state and its monopoly on courts and law are relatively recent, other than Britain and its colonies, France, Sweden and Russia, and perhaps China and Japan, I don’t think that there was anywhere with what we could describe as a modern bureaucratic state before around 1800.

    Monopoly police were a mid 19th century imposition, modeled on the colonial Irish constabulary – which was used to keep the Irish hammered down. The new monopoly was widely distrusted and despised, old “orange” Peel had to work very hard to dress his monopoly up in all sorts of “consensual” clothing.

    In your footnote to my last comment, you are simply coming up with the same sort of shallow lamestream talking points that a 2 minute piece on the BBC would trot out. “Somalia” indeed,

    Which bit of somalia? peaceful developing anarchistic Somaliland and Puntland? or the area around Mogadishu where the former state sector generals and politicians vye to set up mini states, and are funded (US$3G up to 2006) through the UN to continue to do so.

    From the collapse of the Barre regime up to 2006, Somalia as a whole went from near the bottom of the 42 sub saharan African countries in most indicators of development, to around mid way up the league. Telecoms has been one of the huge success stories with full mobile phone coverage and pretty much full mobile internet coverage, and some of the cheapest and clearest quality calls in the world. They’re doing a lot better without a state than their neighbours are with states.

    I’ve pointed you to the literature, I’ll give you some more leads, and will happily discuss the ideas with you, but I can’t do the reading for you, and I can’t take the red pill for you either.

    It’s up to you whether you want to scratch the surface of a large and fascinating area of libertarian thought, or just skip over it and trot out a bunch of lamestream fallacies

    Here’s a collection of Bruce Benson’s stuff on stateless legal systems:
    and here’s Frank van Dun’s site http://users.ugent.be/~frvandun/

    right, I need to get some work done…

    Theory. Reality. History.

    If you seriously want to get government out of peoples’ lives, you have to begin with human nature. If the bow-tie brigade spent a little less time in the library reading each others’ essays, and a little bit more out in the street, they would quickly realize that there simply isn’t the buy-in into their Libertarian nirvana to reconstruct society in the manner they go on about so endlessly. People are innately selfish, have their own concentric circles of concern that radiate from themselves, their families, and their friends. No Ian, I’m not a Libertarian theorist. I’m simply not time-rich enough to become one. I just want the government out of my life. And their way of going about it hasn’t succeeded anywhere to date.

    I used to work for the Mob. Well, I didn’t realize they were the Mob until after a couple of years, and then it took me a few more years to disentangle myself from them. I saw the way how they became, for all intents and purposes, a law unto themselves. And it was the most human process of all. If you’d gone up to the boss and started lecturing him about how he should modify his thinking in favour of “polycentric lawmaking”, he would probably have introduced you to the very monocentric lawmaking instrument he kept in the top drawer of his desk, and was not hesitant to brandish about his office when in one of his frequent expansive moods. I wonder how much more realistic of a work Mises’ “Human Action” would have been if, instead of spending his entire adult life on a university campus, he’d actually worked in the real world? As the Economist wrote in 1957, “Professor von Mises has a splendid analytical mind and an admirable passion for liberty; but as a student of human nature he is worse than null and as a debater he is of Hyde Park standard”

    Put Rothbard, Hayek, von Mises, Tuccille and all the rest of them on an island together, and I have no doubts they would quickly form a society to their own liking. But it would be a society of elites, far removed from the concerns of everyday people.

    It’s not me who’s the picker of cherries – Oz

  11. farmerbraun says:

    Hey guys , ease up on the cherry -picking attribution . . . we don’t want to sound like . . .

    No, we don’t. Enough with cherries then: mine aren’t picked till January anyway. Readers can judge for themselves whether anarchy is worth trying on a national or global scale. Those who do advocate it may pause to consider just how thin is the shield between us and the jungle, how “nasty, brutish and short” life is without any state at all – or if we really would all join hands and sing Kumbaya. I know I would – Oz

  12. msher says:

    I wrote about Detroit in political terms on the Delingpole blog in the article about Birmingham. Some very close parallels. The unions did everything possible to increase “outsourcing”/”globalization” of auto jobs. The Democratic leadership of the city kept it high tax, high regulation and non-business friendly, thus not attracting any new business to the city and especially not all the foreign auto makers that now manufacture in the U.S. Unions and Dems want to blame “globalization” for the automaker’s failures. Yes, automation decreases size of work force, but unmeetable union demands do too by making employers send jobs elsewhere. And globalization brought foreign auto factories to the U.S., all of which located in business-friendly, non-coerced-union states. And as the workforce in Detroit decreased and liberal stupidity kept any new businesses from locating there, city leadership didn’t cut back munipical workforce, thereby making fatal the unfunded pensions, to be paid by a shrunken taxpayer base. One last note: When Obama bailed out Chryser and GM, there was no need for him to do so. The bankruptcy laws have reorganization provisions – which is what Romney had advocated for the companies (He never said he wanted to “shut the doors.” Liberal media let Obama and Biden get away with that lie.). The reason Obama stepped in is that under bankruptcy law bondholder creditors are senior to union pension funds and in bankruptcy both would have taken a hit. Obama wiped out the bondholders and saved in full the union pensions. Clear violation of law. Media didn’t comment on that little thing.

  13. msher says:

    This is OT but the term “Motown” makes me think not only of the city, but of Michael Jackson’s original record label.

    Interesting piece of music trivia I believe got unraveled on Delingpole’s blog. I’m wondering if anyone else saw what I saw years ago. Apologies to anyone who saw all this on the Delingpole blog.

    One piece of background info: I got hooked on classical music, opera and Broadway as a teen. Have listened to very little rock/pop music. Know the big names, haven’t necessarily heard their music and probably know very little about them.

    James’ thread is on Lou Reed (someone about whom I know nothing) and on rock/pop in general. I asked the question how could Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” have ever sold to millions of teenage girls given there was a clear scene in it glorifying rape. I have never seen Thriller, other than that one scene, know nothing else about it. But for a few days about the time of the release of Thriller I watched a little MTV (the American TV station that first made music videos popular) just to see what these videos were like. I saw a scene said to be from Thriller 3 times in those few days. Here is a description of the scene. And my question is whether anyone else caught this scene on MTV.

    Night time and foggy, the woman in a ball gown sort of dress. spread eagle on ground, chains or handcuffs on her feet and ankles, shackled to the ground. Jackson in boots and white pants and shirt, whip in hand . Sort of lion tamer’s costume. Shirtless well muscled men in tight black pants, on staircase behind Jackson leading to some kind of house, standing next to what looked like street lamps. Jackson walks back and forth over woman, a couple of times. It wasn’t real long, but unmistakable. It was a clear rape fantasy scene.

    Folks on the Delingpole blog said Thriller had no such scene. I researched myself and could find no mention of any scene in anything on google. But I stuck to my guns on the Delingpole blog that that scene existed at one time, that MTV in those years showed stuff before public release and it must have been edited out. I didn’t somehow imagine a lion tamer’s costume and remember every single detail of a non-existent scene. I first assumed there was some public negative reaction at the time or record company execs saw it on MTV and made Jackson edit the scene out.

    I checked plot of Thriller in Wiki. There is a sequence where Jackson takes the girl to an abandoned house in the fog and turns into a “werecat.” That had to be the house and place where the scene originally had been in the video. I then checked the definition of “werecat.” It is a mythical creature, a female biped who can turn into a lion.

    Bingo! That explains what I saw on MTV all those years ago – what was in the original pre-release version of the Thriller video. In that version, the girl turns into a “werecat,” then a lion and Jackson is in a lion tamer’s costume, whip in hand to tame her. Someone realize this was a rape fantasy scene, it was edited out and a different scene shot and substituted, with no bound or shackled girl, instead Jackson turns into the “werecat.” (A little strange, given it is a female biped. I asked on the Delingpole blog of Delingpole, a former rock music critic, if any critic had questioned why Jackson became a female mythical creature. I mentioned the rumors that always swirled around Jackson in the entertainment industry that his recording contracts had a clause in them that he would not have a sex change operation. Also my own opinion from the (admittedly few) times I have heard Jackson that his voice was the product of taking female hormones. I always had that opinion.

    Anyway, I know years ago on MTV about the time of the release of Thriller I saw the rape fantasy scene I described. And I believe my research has unearthed a bit of disappeared pop music history (or one that rock critics and historians enamored of Jackson have not wanted to write about). My question is whether anyone else happened to catch that scene on MTV before it was edited out of the released version of Thriller? Or know anything about that scene.

    Here you go msher – Oz:


  14. farmerbraun says:

    Love it Msher. Gimme The Jackson Five!

  15. farmerbraun says:

    Jesus Christ Oz! Kumbaya! Whaddarya? I ‘d rather sing “Quando”. Not.

  16. msher says:


    I don’t see where in that sequence the scene I was talking about would be in your link. The house in the scene I described was a big stone mansion. I checked with a friend who was a close friend at the time. She has never seen Twister, but she also remembers me describing the scene decades ago. I was so shocked and adamant about it as a rape fantasy. Until I looked up what a “werecat” is I thought maybe the hosts on MTV were talking about Thriller but the video they showed was from something else. But I can find no reference to it on line. And when I saw the definition of “werecat” as a female biped who can turn into a lion – well, that sealed the deal for me. It explained the lion tamer’s costume Jackson wore and what he was supposedly doing – taming the lion. Problem is if one doesn’t know what a werecat is, and who the hell knows what a werecat is – the scene absolutely is a rape fantasy scene.

    Are you saying you believe the scene existed or not. I know I saw it, remember every detail of it.

    I don’t have an opinion on that Msher, I just put the clip up as it was many years since I last saw it. Like you said, the scene isn’t there: perhaps you’re referring to this? Oz

  17. izen says:

    There is an ironic symmetry between communists and free market ‘libertarians’.
    Communists have had to accept, or live in denial, that their economic theory of the perfectibility of human society by imposing an economic ideology has been tried and failed. Their political agenda may work in theory, but not in practise.

    Free marketeers seem to have difficulty accepting the same conclusion. Their economic theory about the optimal social system has no empirical examples of practical success. Attempts to find examples usually result in an authoritarian monocultures being suggested. Few would be attractive to the vast diversity of peoples that inhabit modern cultures.

    Regulation and safety nets imposed by central governance are inescapable pragmatic responses.
    An example. A couple of years ago Texas defunded female primary medical care as part of an ideological campaign against abortion and government involvement in healthcare.

    Now they are quietly re-funding these health programs because the consequence has been greater costs from the increase in unwanted pregnancies. It is much more expensive to provide pregnancy, labour and child care than to provide contraception.


    You have a point – a very good one, actually. You can’t go round advocating a radical overhaul of society, without factoring in practical consequences – of which human nature is one of the primary determinants. A doctrinaire state, communist, libertarian, whatever, will always quickly run up against the kind of practical issues you refer to. A theory of government should be a guiding principle, not a set of iron-fisted, inviolable commandments. After all, most such theories were created with pencil and paper, by invididuals who never actually had to run a country and as such, were in no risk of having their throats cut! Oz

  18. farmerbraun says:

    I wonder what happened to these guys-

  19. farmerbraun says:

    Years of playing wedding gigs resulted in a lasting aversion to Quando. You know the moment when the semi-bellicose, tanked, elderly roué slithers up to the stage with the hopelessly inebriated out-of-her-depth teenager giggling helplessly in tow , and demands that the band play Quando . . .

    Ahh, kitsch… I only ever had to play it once, so you have my sympathies – Oz

    Give me Murph and the Magictones any day – Oz 😉

  20. Churchill's Daughter says:

    E. Humperdinck: the only man alive or dead capable of out-Tom-Jonesing Tom Jones.

    To change the subject slightly: my new tartan design is now accepted, after I was told that ‘British-American Friendship’ would not be acceptable. Why? Because, apparently, it was redolent of the ‘Special Relationship’, and we can’t have that now, can we?

    I wanted the tartan to be official: it tells people you know what you’re playing at, for one thing. (And by this point, I do. Got a weaver in America to do two samples for my two setts, to be going on with.)

    But I note that even after changing my title and therefore the meaning and description of my sett to ‘Lands of Liberty’, my original submitted description was cut (if you like, censored) by the Register, without any consultation with me. The original, genuine description is this:

    ‘Liberty knows no borders, but this sett honours those free countries in which the designer has lived as a citizen: Great Britain, Canada, the United States of America. The colours can be described as pillar-box red, white, delft blue, and bright sky blue, representing the various flags of those countries’.

    The altered description — Big Government in action, folks, with ideology firmly at the helm — has it thus:

    ‘This tartan has been created to honour those countries in which the designer has lived as a citizen: Great Britain, Canada, and the United States of America. The colours can be described as pillar-box red, white, delft blue, and bright sky blue, and represent the combined colours of those countries’ flags’.

    Note that I am not allowed to comment on the nature of freedom — something I thought they would actually require. (As in: ‘What?! Some countries have more of a hold on freedom than others, in the nature of things?! Who has a monopoly on liberty?!’) Never mind that I genuinely believe, on the evidence, that liberty like truth will go wherever it’s tolerated and given air to breathe. But note also that the word ‘free’ as an adjective for my countries was struck from the description.

    I was not allowed to call these countries ‘free’. Why?

    I think it’s disgusting enough that ‘British-American Friendship’ was called ‘disquieting’ by the apparatchik that wrote to me initially. British-American friendship has done more for the health and happiness of the world than anything else in human history. (The French even got the Enlightenment wrong and created a nightmarish Reign of Terror in their liberty-destroying so-called revolutionary government — the Emperor Napoleon, anyone? — and never had the Anglospheric sense of restraint and proportion.) The Scottish Government, which runs the tartan register, still does not know whose side it’s on.

    The Scottish government?? Pffft – Oz

    This is visceral – watch and be proud:

  21. Churchill's Daughter says:

    My brother (British, but has lived in Canada most of his life) wrote to me: ‘I guess they are trying to keep the descriptions as apolitical as possible?’

    I said: ‘(name): You mean apolitical as in denying facts? I guess Britain isn’t so free any more. You’re not free to call it free’.

  22. Churchill's Daughter says:

    … Queensland Police of Australia: grand!

    I love Edinburgh. The castle is a marvel. I first saw it at night, lit up, when I arrived by train. I got lost in it for most of a day. I also had all the haggis jacket potatoes I could squeeze in during my visit. They were delicious. I don’t recall finding any good Indian restaurants when I was there, but there was a good Chinese one. We were going to climb some Mount (I forget the name), but there was a very high wind and a nice policeman coming down from it shouted to us in the wind that it was probably not a good idea. We agreed and turned around.

  23. Churchill's Daughter says:

    Incidentally — and I don’t mean to be catty, even though it comes so naturally — but am I the only viewer to think that Arnold’s legs in the video above look rather too slender to match his upper body? It’s as if someone drew a cartoon and got too slick (or sloppy) on the way down, losing his sense of proportion. Yes: this is completely trivial. I’m trying to take a break from fighting for truth, justice, and the American way ;^)

  24. msher says:

    ozboy. thanks. But that isn’t the video. The scene I saw didn’t actually have a cat. Just the woman in ballgown shackled to ground, with a recognizeable and human Jackson standing over her in lion tamer’s costume, whip in hand. Jaclson is never in such costume in this video, no woman on the ground. Wiki in describing the plot of Thriller talks about “werecats” – which turn out to be female biped shape-shifters who can turn into a lion. The “werecat” Jackson became in the released version of the video looked nothing like a cat or anything else we’ve seen, but something out of a horror movie. Some sort of cross between Frankenstein and the Texas chainsaw murderers. His character corresponds to nothing – a head mask possibly reminiscent of a cat if you try real hard, but not really. Just layers of whatever they use to create strange shapes on heads, lots of weird make-up with computer something done to his eyes to make them glow and long fingernails, with blood spouting everywhere from his body. Who finds such images appealing?

    . But what the hell is this video? As far as I can tell Jackson does some dancing, which he does competently, then he runs around dark streets screaming, vandalizing a parked car (smashes in all the windows with a crowbar) and then store windows. He touches his crotch a lot and at one point opens and closes his fly.

    What is the message of all that? This is seriously disturbing stuff. The more I am seeing of his videos, the more I am question: where the hell were the critics and how is it that everyone didn’t think this guy seriously disturbed and anti-social and who would want to buy this kind of video? Before the Delingpole blog, other than the rape fantasy scene I saw on MTV, I had honestly never seen a Jackson music video. To track down the rape fantasy scene I have now looked at a number. Without having ever seen more than that one scene and even disregarding that one scene, I thought it obvious from early years that this man was seriously kinky and very, very weird. I did see articles about how wonderful his dancing and singing were (I disagree with the latter. I mostly disagree with the former. He is a good dancer for pop. But I grew up on classical ballet and Broadway. By ballet standards, he is a very, very limited dancer. By Broadway standards he is competent. In the dozen or so videos I have now seen, he stands out only in being the first to do the “moonwalk.” If he is labeled a “great” dancer, then the standards for dancing on pop record videos are very low.)

    Over the years I saw articles about him being a sex idol and my immediate reaction was: of whom with what kind of perversions? But never any mention of the obvious perversions. Society did recognize the craziness of Charles Manson and there has never been any question of giving him parole. I put parts of the contents of some of the Jackson videos I have now seen in the Manson-crazy category, with a huge element of sexual perversion on top of it.

    Re the rape fantasy scene. I stick to my original description of that scene. I am not wrong or mis-remembering it. It once existed exactly as I described it. There is not some other scene I am mistaking for it. It and probably the scene which led up to it were obviously edited out of released version of Thriller and those scenes now locked up in someone’s vault.

  25. msher says:

    My foray in Michael Jackson videos and thinking of James as a former rock music critic has, I think, given me some insight into James’ style and attitude, especially towards his supporters on his blog. What is one of the things rock stars prize most? To be “edgy.” To them it means artistry and being cool and hip. A little contempt for their fans adds to the “edginess.” I think James absorbed this worship of “edginess” and his present style and attitude towards blog regulars are his way of being “edgy.”

    Not entirely sure what you’re referring to here, msher. Then again, I’m so busy these days that James’ blog is lucky to get five minutes a day out of ozboy, so what would I know. But I haven’t noticed James interacting much at all with blog posters recently, one way or the other. He’s pretty busy these days as I understand it, juggling a number of gigs with different employers.

    I do get the sense he’s now trying to get away from the whole AGW issue, which part of him must regard as a bit of a millstone round his neck. It’s ironic, but I’m guessing Lou Reed’s death was almost a Godsend to him, as it gave him the opportunity to canvass another of his passions – Oz

  26. farmerbraun says:

    I’m pretty sure that most dinkum Aussie blokes in Northern Tasmania (?) will be spending Recreation Day reading this :-


  27. karabar says:

    LOL It looks interesting but it would in fact take all day to read it! Place to go, things to see, dogs to walk, animals to feed, chooks to look after, etc.

    meme, n. : socialists’ term for a truth they don’t like hearing – Oz

  28. izen says:

    @- farmerbraun
    I’m pretty sure that most dinkum Aussie blokes in Northern Tasmania (?) will be spending Recreation Day reading this :-
    wattsupwiththat – the-catastrophic-agw-memeplex-a-cultural-creature

    Some of the comments on that thread are actually quite good. Although the dismissal because of length is telling….

    I was a big fan of the meme concept when Dawkins first promoted it, but the logical problems and limitations soon became apparent. It is only ever a metaphorical tool, not a rigorous scientific hypothesis. As one poster observes it is rooted in the Marxist belief that people, and the opinions they hold, are defined by larger social forces {or memeplexes} rather than personal autonomy of concepts. The dichotomy is false.

    The problem with memeplex as a analytical tool,is that it is a reified concept that can include everything and provides little falsifiable as a hypothesis. It is little more than a description masquerading as an explanation. A memeplex is itself a memeplex. Like Thomas Kuhn’s idea of paradigms in science when applied to itself – the Kuhnian idea becomes a paasing paradigm to be replaced; memeplexes tend to be self-refuting.

    But accepting the concept and its application, while CAGW may be a memecomplex, so is the denial of AGW. Some memeplexes like religion are self-sustaining requiring no evidential support. Others, like the consensus view of the role of CFCs in ozone depletion ARE strongly supported by evidence. To assert that CAGW is a memeplex like religion and therefore is unsubstantiated by physical evidence is clearly wrong and the same fake critique can better be applied to the rejection of the science seen in groups like the dragonslayers who deny that CO2 has any thermodynamic implications for the climate.

    Framing the science of AGW as a memeplex rather than just the political responses sails dangerously close to classifying it all as a hoax fraud and conspiracy. An attempt perhaps to dismiss everything discovered in the last six decades from Plass et al calculating the true effect of CO2 in the atmosphere as part of military research in the fifties developing heat seeking missiles to the latest evidence that ice is now melting at both poles that has survived since at least the Eemian. The meme that AGW is just a politically inspired fraud has motivations other than a clear grasp of the published research.

    While it is difficult to take seriously people who balk at reading a few thousand words but still expect their views on the subject to be regarded with respect, in this case given the inadequacies of the analysis and the propensity to falsely ascribe conspiracy, those that avoiding reading the whole essay on account of its length made a good if uninformed choice!

  29. farmerbraun says:

    All in all , it’s all the same ,
    Just call me if there’s any change.

    Yep the new climate meme is boredom :-


    or if you prefer the musical version :-

  30. farmerbraun says:

    All in all
    It’s all the same.
    Just call me
    If there’s any change

    Boredom , the new and enduring climate meme:-

    Alternate version:-


  31. farmerbraun says:

    Is the moderation playing up?

    A bit. It started a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it may have had something to do with some word combinations. I’m not pre-modding you, but WordPress is. I’ll try to work out why – Oz

  32. farmerbraun says:

    Nope . I got it . It’s the Melbourne Cup Day.

  33. farmerbraun says:

    Yeh something is really screwy with wordpress. That first post disappeared into the ether so I tried again and the second one came up waiting for moderation. The first one didn’t show up again all day until now, when I guess you’ve done something.

    I’ve been out all day, got back a couple of hours ago. I approved your comments as soon as I saw them in the mod queue. Generally I’m working from home so delays of many hours would only occur during night time down here – Oz

  34. izen says:

    @- farmerbraun
    Nicked this list from another site which has links to all the reports. The warmer and more chaotic climate does not necessarily cause these events, it just shapes them to be more extreme than they would have been without the higher temperatures, droughts, sea level rise and greater rainfall.

    Here’s a list of just a few of the extreme weather events this year that our boring climate has delivered, which wasn’t so boring for many people and utterly devastating for some:

    Fires in Tasmania – January 2013
    Australia’s (hottest) Angry Summer
    Oklahoma EF5 tornado May 2013
    Alberta flood (June 2013)
    Catastrophic fire in Arizona July 2013
    Record heat waves in China July August 2013
    Extreme longest drought in Colorado August 2013
    Colorado flood September 2013
    Yosemite fire August 2013
    Australia’s hottest 12 consecutive months (again) September 2013
    Drought in USA
    NSW unseasonal devastating spring bushfires September and October 2013
    Super cyclone Phailin hits India October 2013

  35. farmerbraun says:

    @ Izen – Unprecedented , right? Overwhelming , needless to say!

    Seriously , where is the devastating 1897 flood in the Manawatu? If it occurred today it would be far more devastating because of all the urban development in the floodplain. I imagine that the same applies to all of your listed events . . . more people, less prepared than ever before were affected than ever before , right?
    Nothing to do with population pressure forcing more people into marginal areas.
    You didn’t mention insurance losses 🙂 Absolutely unprecedented! For sure.

    Yep extreme is boring. We have “wild weather” every day here . . . got to keep the sheeple on their toes:-)

    I’m not going to rake over it here at the moment, but the one item on Izen’s list that jumps out is the “unprecedented” October bushfires. Take it as read there is a long list of devastating October bushfires in Australia, including some of our very worst, stretching back to the 1850s. I’ve already set the trolls straight about it at JD’s – Oz

  36. farmerbraun says:

    Woohoo! Got one through. Now where’s the previous one? OK I’m on deck – refresh the page – Oz

  37. karabar says:

    I can’t help but wonder, since none of these are as ‘extreme’ as similar historical events, and in fact some are imaginary (the Angry summer for instance) how it is possible to postulate the negative “shapes them to be more extreme than they would have been”.

  38. karabar says:

    It seems there was controversy regarding ‘extremes’ back in 1871 as well.

    It was worse than they thought! I wonder if they, too, had their Jeremiahs pronouncing stuff like, “the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s were all hotter than the decades before? Oz 😆

  39. izen says:

    @- Take it as read there is a long list of devastating October bushfires in Australia, including some of our very worst, stretching back to the 1850s.

    Indeed there is, your new PM rattled them off in a radio interview.

    There seems to be an intentional confusion between direct, primary causation and changes in the probability that a primary cause will occur.
    Lance Armstrong won races because he was a very competitive athlete who trained to his physical peak and enjoyed the support of a well funded team. The steroids/doping just meant he won rather more often than his natural ability would make probable.

    I will defer to Tony Abbott on the issue of bushfire probabilities.


    I’ve been over it before here, but even if humans were primarily responsible for a rise of 0.6° over the last century, that would make virtually no difference to the severity or frequency of bushfires. However, a higher density of humans living on the fringes of bushland areas does result in both a rise in trigger events, plus the rise in financial impact of a fire (more homes lost). That’s why it is so imperative to maintain a regular winter hazard reduction program, and why the insane policy of the inner-city-dwelling Greens, of blocking the burns at every possible opportunity, has led to a needless increase in the severity of fires, particularly on urban fringes – Oz

  40. farmerbraun says:


    ” I can’t imagine what would cause this type of violence”

  41. farmerbraun says:

    From the wilfully stupid to the sublimely ridiculous. Yep if anyone doubted that the hysterical warmists are determined to see themselves laughed off the front pages then click on the link. Seriously Izen , do you want to be associated with this ? Then speak out against it.


    My twenty-dollar desert acreage is turned into prime waterfront real estate… Woo-hoo!

    Actually, what that map somehow fails to mention is that there already is an inland sea in Australia: Lake Eyre. Just that it’s usually dry. If all the ice in Antarctica melted (I suppose one day it might :roll:) then the channel to the sea would open permanently, and the lake would be somewhat bigger – Oz

  42. karabar says:

    Obviously, someone was not happy with their mullet.

  43. karabar says:

    Well I can sleep easier now. Apparently Tassie won’t be affected. Either Nat Geo doesn’t know where it is, or because the few greens that remain all live on the coast.

    I’d invest in a houseboat – Oz

  44. izen says:

    It is entirely possible to classify droughts, floods and fires by intensity, extent and duration without reference to the increasing amount and value of human infrastructure that it might impact. That still shows an increase in climate extremes, it is NOT just a product of increased human presence in the affected areas. Insurance costs reflect this, damages due to climate related events are rising much faster than damages from non-climate events.

    Yes, I agree the National Geographic maps are ‘alarmist’. They are showing a potential state several thousand years ahead IF the climate change effected by rising CO2 prevents the next ice-age in around 40,000 years. Then the total melt of the poles is a possibility, however that is as far in the future as Stonehenge is in our past.

    Rather more credible and of greater short term relevance is the indications from past climate conditions of what the near term future will hold. The last interglacial period, the Eemian, had similar temperatures to the present with similar {slightly lower} CO2 levels, {solar insolation was higher due to orbital factors}. That period indicates that present day modelling of the climate underestimates the pace and magnitude of polar ice loss and the rise in temperature at the poles. AFAIK no models recreate the polar temperatures actually seen in past warm periods.

    It may be that sea level rise over the next 80 years is seen as irrelevant for those of us who cannot expect to be here for much more than another 30 years, although any children or grandchildren will be around. They are going to experience a rate of sea level rise of around an inch a year with a yard of rise inevitable by the end of the century. The NG graphs of far future possible sea levels are interesting, but irrelevant for policy, human infrastructure has a replacement time much shorter than the projected event time.
    The yard by the century end however is more significant, relocating London, Venice, Miami etc will be major infrastructure projects over the next few decades.


  45. karabar says:

    How long can this sea level nonsense carry on?
    Izen, until you realise that atmospheric carbon dioxide has NO effect on atmospheric temperature, you will continue to be sucked in by this nonsense.

  46. Ozboy says:

    Well according to Michael Smith (who has been on top of the case since its beginning) someone’s climate is about to change – and not for the better:

    Great listening on a Friday evening with a nice red, too 😉

  47. izen says:

    @- karabar
    “… until you realise that atmospheric carbon dioxide has NO effect on atmospheric temperature, you will continue to be sucked in by this nonsense.”

    In the 1950s the US air forcewas developing heat seeking missiles to shoot down Russian bombers. To do this they had to calculate how thermal energy traveled through the atmosphere. They recruited people from astronomy who had already developed means of calculating how energy is transported in a mixed atmosphere. Plass gets the main credit for developing the calculations that have been the basis for the knowledge we have about energy transfer in the atmosphere. This is the basis for our knowledge about how heat is trapped by gasses in the atmosphere which is used for much more than calculating the amount of energy which can cause global warming or making a heatseeker missile.

    “About Modtran
    MODTRAN® is a “narrow band model” atmospheric radiative transfer code. The atmosphere is modeled as stratified (horizontally homogeneous), and its constituent profiles, both molecular and particulate, may be defined either using built-in models or by user-specified vertical profiles. The spectral range extends from the UV into the far-infrared (0 – 50,000 cm-1), providing resolution as fine as 0.2 cm-1.
    MODTRAN® solves the radiative transfer equation including the effects of molecular and particulate absorption/emission and scattering, surface reflections and emission, solar/lunar illumination, and spherical refraction.
    With over a 30 year heritage, MODTRAN® has been extensively validated, and it serves as the community standard atmospheric band model.”

    It is legitimate to dispute the amount of effect on the climate of the heat trapping effect from increasing CO2. But the heat trapping action is not in any doubt. To assert it is puts you in the ‘flat earth’ group along with people like this –


    Once “you open the door to killing,” Barton added, “it’s got a lot of different manifestations” because the nation immediately falls under the judgment of God as He removes his protection and “whap, here comes storms like we’ve never seen before and here comes floods and here comes climate stuff that we can’t explain;

    God’s judgement, Izen? Based on the Old Testament, His judgements seem pretty scattergun and tend to devour the righteous who were unfortunate enough to be hanging round the wicked at the time. My personal carbon footprint is less than any of you (I have had independent assessments that confirm my family is a net carbon sequesterer, due to extensive reforestation). Yet I’m going to get it in the neck along with you city dwellers (pace FB and Ian)

    How’s that fair? Oz 😡

  48. izen says:

    @- Oz
    Life is not fair, that is an ideological imposition of human preference not a derivable characteristic of reality.

    Perhaps thats why the religious fundamentalists think that abortion in America is the cause of global warming, God inflicting punishment on the Philippines for the falling abortion rate in the US. Nonsense of course.

    Given the historical validity of the radiative transfer equations and the objective observation of a significant increase in the amount of energy absorbed into the climate system in the last few decades as reflected in the sea level expansion and ice melt ascribing the warming to a deity, abortion or a hoax is the nonsensical response.

  49. izen says:

    @- karabar says:
    How long can this sea level nonsense carry on? – {Link to Steve Goddard about a report from 78 on sea level rise}

    I find it interesting that the fact that this prediction of sea level rise as a result of warming has been a consistent feature of the science since the 70s and in fact long before, is framed by Goddard as a NEGATIVE aspect of the science. It is actually evidence of the consensus over time as well as numbers for the predicted effects of global warming.

    The knowledge we have of sea level, what melted and how fast are quite good for past interglacial periods. The most recent before the Holocene was the Eemian and that is the main source for how much sea level rise is likely with temperature comparable to the present.

    It takes a particular investment in conspiracy belief to interpret the consistency of scientific findings as evidence of the fraudulent content. But I suspect that any changes or modifications of the scientific mainstream findings would ALSO be trumpeted as evidence of the duplicity or inaccuracy of the whole field.

    Perhaps you can understand now why I find the link to Steve Goddard such a nonsensical and counterproductive element in your argument. The conspiracy he is peddling can adduce almost ANY evidence as support, if you accept the conspiracy. But for most people without a prior assumption the consistency of the science he highlights would be good support for its validity

  50. farmerbraun says:

    “It is legitimate to dispute the amount of effect on the climate of the heat trapping effect from increasing CO2.”

    Actually that is all that is in dispute isn’t it? More accurately , all that is in dispute is the level of
    certainty that can be attached to any prediction of anthropogenic climate change.
    It is quite possible that human effects on climate will turn out to be negligible.
    Failed dire predictions of imminent disaster have led to the public view that the uncertainty is so large as to make the risk relatively irrelevant.

  51. farmerbraun says:

    These sorts of pleas for more taxpayer grants are being met with increasing resistance for very obvious reasons. The public has had a gutsfull of the pigs with both front feet in the trough.
    Resilience, redundancy , and adaptability are the answers , almost regardless of the question.

    I can tell you that for free.


  52. farmerbraun says:

    I find this argument in the comments following the above link to be decidedly attractive and compelling 🙂


    It’s both, in spades – Oz

  53. karabar says:

    Izen, while the experimental work by Plass, and your Modtran 5 are impressive, they really don’t address the issue. A wise physicist Albert something* is known to have remarked, “No amount of experimentation can prove me right, and it would take only one experiment to prove me wrong”.
    Therein lies the heart of the scientific method. In order for a change in “A” to cause a change in “B”, a) “A” must occur BEFORE “B” b) The change in “B” must consistently result in a change in “A”, and c) a rational explanation must exist for this result.
    The geology to which you refer does not illustrate a close relationship of CO2 and temperature. If there is any identifiable relationship, it is that temperature lags CO2.
    The big experiment conducted not by men but by the world itself DISPROVES your contention that an increase in CO2 of necessity leads to an increase in temperature, irrespective of your desire for it to be true.
    We have witnessed an increase from 280 to 400 ppm (if that measurement can be believed)** with no increase in temperature.

    *Was it beer stein? Holstein? No, EINSTEIN!

    ** Detailed experiments in the 1950’s measuring CO2 in Iowa cornfields that indicated the plants readily devour CO2 in the early morning hours, especially in bright sun. The initial concentration of 400 ppm was recorded several times during that period. As with the measurement of many parameters in this post normal science world, dependence on a station on Mauna Loa as the sole indication seems to me to be suspect.

    As for your ad homs, please stick them where the moon don’t shine. The REAL flat-earthers are the climate modelers using an “energy balance” that assumes a black body flat earth where there is no day or night or change of seasons.

  54. Ozboy says:

    More overwhelming scientific consensus – and this time, the 97% figure was probably true:


  55. Me says:

    Oz: Yes, and it’s a similar thing here with kudzu, an Asian vine planted initially in the 1930s in America for erosion prevention, if memory serves. By the 1950s, there were already voices warning that it was invasive and difficult if not impossible to control — but still it kept being planted. It is now also a problem in parts of Australia, according to Wikipedia. It’s quite scary because it has a habit of blanketing — literally smothering — everything in its path, including cars and buildings, to say nothing of native trees. Apparently it’s edible, but not many people are interested. “What’s for dinner tonight?” “Kudzu.” “Oh.”

    A couple of days ago I found an intriguing pair of frogs on one of my windows, and I emailed (with a bit of concern) a University of Florida expert on the subject. Sure enough, he identified the frogs in the photos I sent (fore and aft of the critter, as one was suctioned on to a plastic hurricane shield the previous owner had installed) as the Cuban Treefrog. I gather that this frog is as treasured in Florida as the Cane Toad, which we also have — i.e., not. This Cuban frog outcompetes the native tadpoles and eats the grown-ups. Not a nice thing to expect from your new immigrant neighbour. There were two on the window; now there are three. I’m going to have to take their safe refuge down.

    By the way, I’m pretty sure I saw three panther young in my neighbourhood yesterday. They weren’t domestic cats and they sure weren’t dogs. The only thing that gives me pause is their colour, which is wrong for a Florida panther. But I stood gawking at them with my jaw dropped, and at this point in my adventures, it takes quite a lot to do that.

  56. izen says:

    @- karabar says:
    “A wise physicist Albert something* is known to have remarked, “No amount of experimentation can prove me right, and it would take only one experiment to prove me wrong”.

    As Ozboy’s new post renders this thread moribund {probably rightly so!} I will just comment that it is instructive to compare what Albert actually did with what he said when citing him as an authority.
    Shortly after publishing the theory of relativity as an explanation for the possible invariance of light-speed measured by Michelson and Morley the experiment was repeated by other who found a small difference ‘proving’ him wrong.
    Albert’s response was that he would “wait for better results”.


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